“Like all virtues, humility is not achieved by happenstance — it is cultivated. The humble person is one who repeatedly chooses the counter-instinctual way of vulnerability, honesty, and self-confrontation. The road to a life lived in this way requires a commitment to an ancient path.”- Rich Villodas
“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’ “- Luke 18:13 (ESV)
Rich Villodas concludes Chapter 5 of Good and Beautiful and Kind with a focus on two core habits of humility. Praying the Jesus Prayer and the habit of receiving correction.
1. Praying the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer, profoundly adapted by Christians in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, comes from Luke 18:13. Above all, Pastor Villodas observes, the Jesus Prayer:
- grounds us in our ongoing capacity to miss the mark
- calls us to receive Jesus’ mercy desperately and joyfully
- petitions the mercy of God, which, in turn, leads us in petitioning mercy for others
Therefore, the author finds the Jesus Prayer incredibly simple, yet profoundly demanding. Because the prayer roots us in the reality of our brokenness. As a result, this prayer stops us in our tracks — Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner. The simplicity of the prayer serves as its stumbling block. But God, Rich states, chooses the simple things of the world to confound the wise.
2. The habit of receiving correction. Because the humble person recognizes the presence of blind spots, he/she receives and even pursues correction. Hence, the humble person lives free from perfection, knowing it all, and being it all.
In conclusion, Rich offers these words of counsel:
“This attitude often does missing from our lives because of how painful it is. But remember, this pain we feel usually stems from our false self still asserting control. . . . Jesus’ ways reveal the way God works. Those who can confess being blind are those who see; those who claim to see are truly the ones who are blind.”
Today’s question: Do you desire to commit yourself to the ancient path? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Calm presence cultivation”